Type Book
Date 1986
Tags picture book, children's book, fantasy, fiction

When the Clock Struck Thirteen

Every day, every hour, the iron boy struck the bell with his silver hammer. At one o'clock, he struck it once, at two o'clock, he struck it twice, and so on. One night, though, at midnight, he struck the bell thirteen times. And suddenly, he was free. He wanted to be alive, so the magician who owned the house with the bell, where he'd stood for so many years, sent him to the Country of Zorn, in which he could find the Silver River. If he bathed in the Silver River, he would become alive.

When the Clock Struck Thirteen by Sheila McCullagh is a children's picture book, designed to teach young children to read. On the left-hand pages are longer sentences with more complicated words, intended for parents to read, while the right-hand pages contain shorter, simpler sentences, intended for children to read. Eventually, the children can be expected to read the entire book, themselves.

The idea of a book that is designed to be read collaboratively by parent and child seems like a good one, to me, and this book seems a good example of it. The part of the story on the left-hand pages is just a bit more difficult to read than the part on the right hand pages, providing a gentle step up in difficulty for children learning to read.

The story is continued and concluded in the remaining four books in Stage 4 of the Puddle Lane reading program, which, sadly, I do not own. The story in this one is quite incomplete, ending just as the boy leaves the magician for the Country of Zorn. Perhaps I'll acquire the others someday, so I can see how it ends.

I'd recommend When the Clock Struck Thirteen to parents looking for something to read with their children, and if this book is any indication of the quality of the other books in the series, then they would be well worth acquiring, as well.

Name Role
Sheila McCullagh Author